How to deal with the fear of public speaking?

woman giving a lecture and deal  with her fear of public speaking

Knotted throat, deaf voice, dry mouth and trembling hands … For some, speaking in public is an obstacle course. How to deal with the fear of public speaking and gain insurance?

It is a widespread fear , which affects all social circles, all levels of responsibility . When it is moderate, the anxiety of speaking in public is heavy but not debilitating. On the other hand, when the stage fright becomes more intense and borders on phobia , those who suffer from it find themselves as locked up, incapable of overcoming the terror which paralyzes them . “I happened to collapse one day, literally. I had to speak for a professional conference and within seconds of getting on the stage, I fell in the apples“, says Pauline, 34, and a senior manager in a telephone company. Sylvain, 40, an engineer, makes sure to avoid all the occasions when he should appear in front of” more than ten people “. which, he confides, “is a brake on my career .” However, the experts we interviewed are clear: there are solutions to put an end to this anxiety. Here are some of them. 

Make sure you control the substance of your intervention

To deal with the fear of public speaking “We must not believe that people who are good at speaking are innately so,” says Jean-Noël Chaintreuil, entrepreneur and specialist in coaching change. “Everyone is afraid , or at least the vast majority of people. Those who seem at ease are generally afraid because they have worked so much and as long as they know their intervention on their fingertips. usually helps to eliminate some of the stress . ” And to recall that at all times the great orators “tirelessly repeated their speeches”: “The Roman tribunes declaimed their own pebbles in their mouths facing the sea to be certain of their diction”.  

Find your points of support

“The quality of his presence, to others and to himself, is essential,” notes Jacky Canal , coach and actor. I advise people I train in public speaking to be aware of their support, to anchor their feet in the ground, which allows them to feel more solid. “” Put your hands on the table or desk when you are at the podium is a way to register in reality , to remember your presence, “confirms Jean-Noël Chaintreuil. Philippe Janiaux , coach specializing in media training in particular, recommends” lowering shoulders “.” When you are stressed, you tend to go up to your ears,and creates tensions which cannot help the speech to be fluent “. Jean-Noël Chaintreuil also suggests” to provide a dress in which one is comfortable “, in terms of comfort but also appearance. Feeling attractive or at least physically confident is the first step to gaining confidence. 


This seems trivial and obvious, but our three experts are unanimous: good breathing alone is a guarantee of greater serenity and therefore of a successful intervention. “We must banish breathing from the upper body, panting and shallow,” says Philippe Janiaux. “Breathing in while inflating the belly , slowly, then exhaling slowly is extremely effective,” confirms Jacky Canal. The latter insists on the need however “to train on a daily basis”. “It’s not by starting abdominal breathing in the minutes before a stressful situation that one can become calm again. It is the regularity of the preparation which ensures a lasting result “. An opinion shared by Philippe Janiaux:” It must become a reflex and for that, that it must be part of everyday life “. In other words, a few minutes of breathing in mindfulness every day is more effective than an hour punctually, just before the big jump. 

Think positive

All the great “stalkers” have in common this tendency to depreciate, even to pessimism , whether to ward off fate or because they are really convinced that they are not up to the task. However, insists Philippe Janiaux, “it is absolutely necessary to remember that if one is there, on the point of speaking to an audience or an audience, to animate a meeting or to make a toast, it does not matter, it is because that we were asked , because we are legitimate and that we have something to bring to this audience. ” “Repeating yourself as a mantra that you have worked on your speech, that you therefore have the skills to be there,” advises Jacky Canal. 

Regarding the visualization of the audience in its simplest device, often recommended, none of our experts seems very convinced, even if, they agree, it is despite everything a dedramatizing thought. Jean-Noël Chaintreuil, by his own admission still nervous at the start of each of his interventions, while he has been teaching for years and it is his core business, prefers to remember this famous phrase from Sarah Bernhardt to one of his young colleagues: “The stage fright ? You will see, he will come with the talent”. 

Memorize the first sentences

“It is the first moments that are decisive. Once again, even the most seasoned have their throats tied when they start their intervention. Having memorized the first words, even if it is a sentence of introduction of the most banal, in which we thank people for being there, helps to get through this first moment of stress, “says Jean-Noël Chaintreuil. 

Start slowly

“Often, when speaking in public is an ordeal, we have only one desire, it is to finish it as quickly as possible, even if it means reciting our speech at a speed,” reports Jacky Canal. Except that speaking quickly while in a state of anxiety is likely to worsen the infancy and lose the audience. So don’t be afraid of silence and try to speak at a slower pace than usual. This also allows you to catch your breath at a time when you need it more than ever. 

Make your voice heard

Again, this requires training, family, taking drama lessons , alone in the bathroom, whatever, as long as you learn to amplify your voice, so that you are heard, recommend Philippe Janiaux. 

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